Carolina Panthers draft room secrets raise excitement for Jonathon Brooks

The Carolina Panthers were extremely high on the running back.
Jonathon Brooks
Jonathon Brooks / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

The Carolina Panthers trading up to take running back Jonathon Brooks at No. 46 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft raised eyebrows. But as it turned out, those in power were higher on the prospect than most.

Brooks hasn't seen the field as yet as rehabilitation continues on the torn ACL he suffered when momentum towards Heisman Trophy consideration was growing in 2023. Dave Canales thinks he might be able to participate at some stage over training camp, but erring on the side of caution would be prudent. Especially considering the other backfield options available.

Carolina Panthers had supreme conviction in Jonathon Brooks

The Panthers had bigger perceived needs. However, recent revelations from executive vice president of football operations Brandt Tilis via the team's website indicate that Brooks was much higher on their board than any other prospect. Simply put, this team is not in a position to turn down what they perceive as higher-caliber talent over positional needs.

"We're not trading just to trade, like we're doing it with intention. So like the [Jonathon] Brooks one, it was a really good example of that. There were a few players on the board who we liked. Brooks was by far a (or our) number one guy, and we were planning on a smaller move back, and then the Rams came in and offered what they did, and it was, frankly, too good to pass up. They really wanted that pick. And we knew that if we traded the pick there would be a player that we would miss out on. We were comfortable with that because we really wanted Brooks, and to be able to get the two next year, we said, OK, once our guys start going, then we're going have to move back up. It's not like we did anything that was so smart or great or whatever; we were just willing to take a larger risk to get that outcome of the trade. It's like, let's not get cute here. Let's just get our guy."

Brandt Tilis via

Dan Morgan and others in positions of power had conviction in Brooks. They believe he can become a genuine three-down threat to place alongside quarterback Bryce Young long-term. The likes of Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders won't be giving up their spots without a fight, but there should be enough carries for everyone within Canales' run-first approach.

This revelation only adds to the excitement surrounding Brooks. He's relishing the chance to impose himself once medically cleared. If the Panthers utilize him correctly, the former Texas standout has the tools to leave a notable impression right out of the gate.

Brooks might not be at 100 percent to start the season. The Panthers will integrate him gradually to ensure no additional complications on the health front emerge. Once he finds his football legs again, it's all systems go.

Tilis stated the Panthers were trading with purpose. They knew teams like the Dallas Cowboys were also high on Brooks. Making this move guaranteed they got their guy and left others regretting their lack of conviction.

That's been the hallmark of Morgan and Tilis' front-office ethos up to now. It doesn't always guarantee success, but it's the correct way of doing business.

If Brooks becomes a legitimate No. 1 option capable of entering the elite level over time, nobody will be talking about the compensation Carolina coughed up to acquire him. It's that simple.